Clampdown on cross-border criminals involved in countryside crime

More than 200 police officers and volunteers have taken part in the country's biggest rural policing operation.

Operation Checkpoint regularly sees officers from North Yorkshire, Cleveland, Cumbria, Durham, Lancashire and Northumbria join forces to target cross-border criminals.

Running from 3pm Wednesday 7 December into the early hours of Thursday 8 December, intelligence-led deployments were coordinated between the six forces, along with static vehicle checkpoints and visits to vulnerable premises.

Intelligence shows that organised crime groups from across the north of England are involved in thefts, burglaries, handling stolen property and targeting rural areas. These criminals use their extensive knowledge of the road networks across the region in an attempt to avoid detection.

Checkpoint targets, disrupts and deters vehicles suspected of being linked to criminality by deploying officers and volunteers with expert knowledge of their local area, crime patterns, intelligence and road network, and using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology.

The operation saw over 100 vehicles stopped for checks across the Cleveland, Cumbria, Durham, Lancashire, North Yorkshire and Northumbria areas resulting in a number of vehicle seizures, fixed penalty notices and arrests.

Officers from North Yorkshire Police targeted the northern part of the county, particularly along the border with Cleveland, Durham, Lancashire and Cumbria, with additional patrols along the county’s major roads such as the A1 and A19.

In North Yorkshire, eight Rural Watch volunteer teams, from Girsby, Danby Wiske, Hawes, Stokesley, Thirsk, Bedale, Middleham and Richmond turned out – more than 40 volunteers in total. The operation was also supported by eight North Yorkshire Police Special Constables, volunteers with the same powers and equipment as regular police officers.

In total, 43 vehicles were stopped and checked in North Yorkshire, and there were eight arrests. Two men were arrested for theft from a motor vehicle in Whitby; two men were arrested on suspicion of a burglary in Hawes in October; and following a vehicle stop check in Hinderwell, two men were arrested on suspicion of theft of scaffolding from Scarborough, another was arrested on suspicion of burglary and another on suspicion of criminal damage and arson.

Inspector Jon Grainge, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce said: “Operation Checkpoint sends a clear message to criminals using road networks to target our rural communities that their illegal activity will not be tolerated. Last night’s results are proof of this. By working very closely with colleagues across the region, we can clamp down on criminals wherever they are from, and wherever they are going. As always, we are extremely grateful for the support of our volunteer Watch schemes and Special Constables, who continue to provide outstanding support in the fight against rural crime.”

Superintendent John Lyons, of Cleveland Police, said: “Cleveland are the lead force on this occasion for this operation and as Silver command for the evening was pleased that we get to work together with neighbouring forces as well as with the Special Constabulary, the Dog Support Unit, Road Policing Unit, neighbourhood teams, the Angling Trust’s ‘Volunteer Bailiffs’ and ANPR to ensure Operation Checkpoint was a success, and working together as a team for Operation Checkpoint is a great way to tackle rural crime to reassure local communities that we are working together to keep our areas safe by clamping down on criminals.”